Last-Minute Wilderness Policy for Wildlife Refuges Ignores Global Warming, Takes Alaska Wilderness Planning Off the Table

As predicted, the Bush Administration continues to push through last-minute regulations and policy changes detrimental to America’s public lands.

The latest is a flawed new wilderness stewardship policy for the National Wildlife Refuge System, released yesterday by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service without any opportunity for public comment. Among other things, the new policy exempts the 80 percent of America’s refuges located in Alaska from wilderness review requirements, and totally ignores the very real threats posed to refuges by global warming.

“It is outrageous that there is nothing in the new policy about managing refuge Wilderness to protect habitat, species, and migration corridors in a time of climate change. This is a serious omission when Refuge System lands will be among the first to be impacted by the temperature changes associated with global warming,” says Maribeth Oakes, refuge program manager at the Wilderness Society.

It’s ironic that, just as Americans are demanding more openness from government, the Bush Administration “has once again resorted to making policy behind closed doors,” Oakes notes. Read our press release here. Last week, The Wilderness Society sent a memo to editors and reporters alerting them to a whole host of last-ditch Administration moves, the refuge wilderness policy among them, that might be on the horizon. See the whole list.